This week, the EU Commission presented two studies on the subject of apprenticeships and traineeships. They recommend to orientate both training programmes more towards the demand on the labour market and the requirements of the economy and to structure them in such a way that they provide young people with higher standards of education and training as well as better perspectives. The EU Commission is now preparing a Council Recommendation on Youth Guarantees and a Quality Framework for Traineeships to be presented by the end of 2012, which will also take the result of the studies into account.
Dual apprenticeships also attract criticism

In particular in times of extremely high youth unemployment, dual apprenticeships are regarded as saviours, as especially the speedy transition into the labour market is a major advantage. Nevertheless, the study ascertains that the findings in respect of long-term employment prospects in case of dual apprenticeships are less clear. Doubt is also cast on the notion that knowledge and skills which have been obtained within the scope of vocational training in a certain company can be usefully applied to another enterprise. Another criticism is aimed at the fact that with regard to access to forms of dual apprenticeships there are often strong imbalances concerning gender, ethnic background or disability. Finally, there is also the risk that apprentices are only regarded and used as cheap labour. Nevertheless, there is a strong feeling that an apprenticeship can be a stepping stone for young people wanting to enter the labour market and that as such it makes a contribution to getting to grips with the exorbitant high level of youth unemployment in Europe.

Traineeships are an instrument to help young people to get acquainted with a working environment

Over the past years, concerns were increasingly voiced across Europe regarding quality and fairness of traineeships and the question whether traineeships represent an efficient instrument to aid the transition from education to employment. The study represents an answer to the demand to create a foundation of information on traineeships, which includes all EU countries. One of the results showed that traineeships are increasingly integrated in measures on active labour market policy and that they are an integral part of educational or training courses. However, funding remains a major problem. The most common models of financing the various types of traineeships include European as well as national/regional funds, financial aid of institutions such as universities, private funds as well as payments of traineeship providers. Required is a clear EU-wide definition of traineeships; the study also ascertains a need for a quality framework for traineeships that provides clear and practical guidelines for high-quality traineeships. To aid this purpose, the EU Commission initiated a public consultation in April to obtain ideas on improving the quality of traineeships to make the transition into the labour market easer for first-time employees.

Further information:

Study on Apprenticeships

Study on Traineeships

Public consultation on the quality of traineeships